Thousands of sermons, teaching sessions, seminars, and lectures on the Christian religion and western philosophy in general have fallen upon my ears over the past forty years.   I’ve consumed hundreds of books and devoted the last one third of my life in study and research relative to the Christian religion.  God has graced me with an eternal relationship with Him through the Lord Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Until this day, God has given me an able body and sound mind to devote myself to learning more about myself, others, and especially God, the triune God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Even so, I find myself learning to learn.

Moses prayed to God and said, “Teach us [the children of God] to number our days, That we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).   Today I counted my days on this earth.  They are 23,556.  Easy!  However, to present to God a heart of wisdom is not easy.  Wisdom is not the same thing as knowledge, but wisdom is not possible without knowledge.  Francis Turretin quotes Suidas saying that wisdom is “the learning and the skillful use of contemplation, knowledge, and recognition.”

Now I will go to the crux of the subject in the form of a question.  Does the knowledge of myself, others, and God match the number of days I’ve been given to acquire such knowledge?  My head drops in humility as I realize just how many of those days that have been squandered in pleasures, self indulgence, and self gratification.  Issac Watts wrote a book for children and youth on the subject, which is the title, “The Improvement of the Mind.”  It was published in 1833 and re-printed in 1998.  I have valued its content ever since my first reading of it.  It is a book about how to acquire and use knowledge that will be an aid to make one wise.  In the preface Watts gives the reader a summary of the book.   First it “lays down remarks and rules how we may attain useful knowledge ourselves; and the second, how we may best communicate it to others.”   Christians ought to be learning to learn.  Knowledge is not acquired by speculative osmosis.  Watts saw the need to teach children how to learn.  Watts wrote “The Improvement of the Mind” so that young people might “seek the cultivation of their own understandings (notice the plural) in the early days of life.”  Watts goes on to give sage advice to young people.  “Perhaps, they may find something here which may awake a latent genius, and direct the studies of a willing mind.  Perhaps it may point out to a student now and then what may employ the most useful labours of his thoughts and accelerate his diligence in the momentous enquiries.” 

I will continue this blog later with some more “Directions for the attainment of useful knowledge” found in “The Improvement of the Mind”, D.V.